Kevin VanDam Interview!
An exclusive interview with Kevin VanDam, bass fishing's ultimate pro!
Glenn: Hi, I'm Glenn May with BassResource.com, and I'm with arguably one of the best anglers of our time, Mr. Kevin VanDam. Kevin, pleased to have you here today.
Kevin VanDam: Man, I'm glad to be here.
Glenn: Kevin, now how long have you been fishing?
Kevin: This is my 20th Bassmasters Classic we're doing here, but I started fishing when I was 3 years old. My dad took my ice fishing the first time. I started tournament fishing when I was 14, and it was the 1990-91 season that I started fishing professionally. So like I say, it's my 20th Classic now and it's amazing to me that it's gone by. It sure doesn't seem like 20 years.
Glenn: It's been a lot of fun though, hasn't it?
Kevin: Oh, I love what I do and I don't take these for granted. I mean, you can feel the buzz of the Classic already. I know everybody's excited in anticipation of going out tomorrow and seeing what we can do.
Glenn: Now of all these years of fishing what you say would be your most memorable bass you've ever caught?
Kevin: Boy, I've caught a lot of them that really stick in my mind, but probably the one that I would say is the most important to me was my dad took me smallmouth bass fishing when I was 7 years old, and the first smallmouth bass I ever caught was a 10" fish, which in Michigan at the time that was the minimum size limit. But I caught this 10" smallmouth bass, and I just remembered that thing pulled and fought and jumped like four times. I mean, he just was crazy, and it hooked me on smallmouth bass from that day on. So over the years I've caught a lot of fish that I can remember and stick in my mind, but that one right there probably changed me more than anything else.
Glenn: Those things just don't give up now do they?
Kevin: They never give up.
Glenn: So not so much like a big bass or anything like that stands out in your mind at all?
Kevin: Well, I've caught some big ones. I caught an 11-13 in a Bassmaster tournament at Lake Lewisville, and I caught that on a shaky head with a spinning rod with 8# line, so that was a really exciting battle. To catch a fish like that in a tournament that's huge. Over the years, like you say, there's a lot of fish that stand out, but when I was a young man catching some of those bigger fish then, those are the ones that stick with you through your whole life.
Glenn: They just get you going.
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely.
Glenn: Talking a little bit about big bass fishing, what would you say would be one of your more unusual techniques or tactics for catching large bass?
Kevin: Well, the biggest thing in our sport over the last few years, without a doubt, has been swim baits. If you want to target big bass, there are a lot of baits. You can catch big fish on spinner baits. Jigs are known as a big fish bait. But if there's one lure that's a big fish lure, it's a swim bait. I've learned that even big swim baits catch smaller bass. So that's probably the one thing that I've changed in my fishing more than anything is using a lot of bigger baits because of what I've seen with swim baits.
Glenn: Cool. Now to change the subject just a little bit, if you could fish with anybody, if you had your choice, past or present, whom might that be?
Kevin: Oh, there are a lot of guys that I'd love to fish with. I've been fortunate to get to fish with quite a few of the top guys in the sport. I've fished with Larry Nixon before. I've fished with Tommy Martin. I've fished with Danny Brauer. I've fished with Rick Clunn. Those experiences, that's the way you learn, is you can fish with other people that are good fishermen. The more good fishermen you fish with, the better off you can be. That's one thing that I miss about the old Bassmaster invitationals is when we used to be head-to-head with another pro in the boat, the learning curve was a lot quicker. Now with it being a pro am, you're out there and you have a co-angler with you in some and in the Elite Series we just fish alone, so that changes things. But there are a lot of celebrities that I'd like to fish with. I'd love to fish with like a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning, people like that, people in other sports that are dominant. But in reality, I'm such a fan of our sport that I like to fish with these guys. The more of them that you get to fish with, the better you're going to be.
Glenn: That reminds me, outside of fishing, what is your favorite sport?
Kevin: I'm a big sports fan all the way around. I grew up playing baseball, so I watch a lot of Major League Baseball. I've got a nephew that's playing college basketball now, so I'm starting to watch a lot more basketball. I'm a big NFL fan. I'm a hockey fan. But if it comes right down to it, probably baseball because as a young man I played little league for eight or nine years and I played some high school ball, and it's just something that I still enjoy going to. I'm a big Tigers fan, and I still go to a couple of games a year. My parents live in Lakeland for the winter, and they're right next to where the Tigers play their spring training at. So I go to some of those games when I see them there. So I'm definitely a sports fan all the way around.
NASCAR is another thing that I just absolutely love. A lot of the drivers are friends of mine. Ryan Newman, for instance, he's a big fisherman. I've been to his tournament. I talk to him all the time, and I'm a big NASCAR fan. If I'm going down the road anymore, my radio is on ESPN or NASCAR. I've got the Sirius satellite radio and I'm always listening to sports.
Glenn: Who's your driver?
Kevin: It's got to be Ryan because, again, he's very passionate about fishing and he's a great driver. I really like the way he carries himself on and off the track. But I know a lot of them. The great thing about the NASCAR guys is they're good people. They're very down to earth, and the thing about NASCAR is those drivers get real close to the fans and it's very similar to our sport. So I appreciate that about NASCAR, and that's one of the things I think makes fishing so good too.
Glenn: Yeah, I think that's why there are a lot of guys who really enjoy NASCAR and bass fishing. They seem to go together real well.
Kevin: It's fun.
Glenn: Now what would be your dream vacation, if you could just plan it out, all expenses barred? What would you like to do?
Kevin: Well, I've done a few trips that are fun. Going down to the Amazon peacock bass fishing is a dream trip. I've done that a few times. One thing that I'm just starting to get into a little bit is saltwater fishing. Just a few weeks ago I went down to the Keys with my buddy, Mark Zona and filmed a show with him catching sharks there. It's neat to experience other things that are similar. I love fishing there in the Keys because it's sight fishing. It's so visible. You're fishing shallow flats. It's a lot like bass fishing, so I like doing that. I'd love to go offshore and fish for tuna and things like that too. I just enjoy experiencing all different kinds of fishing.
Glenn: Now, Kevin, what's one thing that the fans might not know about you that you can share with us?
Kevin: I think more than anything I'm just a regular guy just like everybody else. People come up to me at times and are shy or want to ask for an autograph or even to talk to you. I mean, every one of these guys in the room, they're very approachable, and we're just like everybody else. So if people didn't get that, that's something that I definitely want them to know.
Glenn: So what's your favorite ice cream?
Kevin: Man, I like all kinds of ice cream. It just depends on the day, but it's hard to beat chocolate.
Glenn: Great. Well, Kevin, thank you so much for spending time with us. I do appreciate it. We'll see you out on the water.
Kevin: Excellent, man, thanks.